By far the hippest new place to stay in San Juan,
Da House (312 Calle San Francisco, 787/366-5074 or 787/977-1180, fax 787/725-3436, www.dahousehotelpr.com, $80–120 s/d) is owned and operated by the folks behind one of the city’s hottest music clubs, Café Nuyorican. It’s also located directly above the nightclub, making it a great spot for the late-night party crowd. Those inclined to go to bed early will no doubt be kept awake by the club downstairs, which doesn’t close until 3 or 4 in the morning. But night owls looking to stay in elegant but casual surroundings on a student’s budget would be hard-pressed to find a better hotel.
The 27 units are small and sparsely furnished with just the basics—bed, lamp, mini-fridge, ceiling fan, and remote-control air-conditioning. There is no TV or phone, and fresh linens, irons, and hair dryers are available only upon request. And there’s no elevator, so be prepared to walk up as many as four flights to your room—carrying your own luggage. Service is minimal—the pierced and tattooed set that runs the reception desk often do double duty in the bar downstairs.
So what makes Da House so great? Besides the inexpensive rates and location in the heart of Old San Juan, it is a gorgeous building filled with fantastic contemporary art exhibitions that change every month.
When it comes to bang for the buck, you can’t do much better than Hotel Milano (307 Calle Fortaleza, 787/729-9050 or 877/729-9050, fax 787/722-3379, hmilano [at] coqui [dot] net, www.hotelmilanopr.com, $95–185 s/d plus 9 percent tax). Here you get all the modern amenities you could want but in a historic setting ideally situated among many of Old San Juan’s most popular restaurants and shops. Thirty clean corporate-style rooms come with new furnishings, air-conditioning, satellite TV, hair dryers, and mini-refrigerators. An added bonus is the serviceable rooftop restaurant and bar, which provide fantastic views of the city and harbor.
Ideally located in the heart of Old San Juan on Plaza de Armas, Hotel Plaza de Armas (202 Calle San Jose, 787/722-9191, fax 787/725-3091, plazadearmas [at] hotmail [dot] com, www.hojopr.com, $109 s, $169–179 d, $185 suites) is a simple modern hotel in a historic building renovated in 2005. The Howard Johnson property has 50 units, which comes with air-conditioning, satellite TV, and Wi-Fi. Suites come with balconies and small refrigerators; king suites sleep up to five people and have DVD players. Free continental breakfast.
© Suzanne Van Atten from Moon Puerto Rico, 2nd Edition